Mourners, vowing to “find hope,” paid tribute to George Floyd at a Houston church on Tuesday, capping a three-state tribute to the man whose death touched off protests against racism and police brutality.
Floyd’s said one final goodbye to the Minneapolis man who was born in North Carolina and raised in Houston. A service will be held at Fountain of Praise church before he is laid to rest at Houston Memorial Gardens in nearby Pearland, Texas.
Just as the service began, Floyd’s golden casket was closed for a final time.
“This will be a home-going celebration of brother George Floyd,” Fountain of Praise pastor Mia K. Wright told mourners. “We may weep, we may mourn, but we will find hope.”
Gospel singer Dray Tate delivered a stirring rendition of “A Change Is Gonna Come,” the famed Sam Cooke song that became an anthem of civil rights protests of the 1960s.
As Tate sang, artist Ange Hillz quickly painted a black-and-white portrait of Floyd behind him.
The Minneapolis man’s final resting place will be next to next to his mother, whom Floyd cried out for two weeks ago as a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
The four Minneapolis officers who confronted Floyd on May 25 have been arrested and charged in connection to his death.
Ahead of Tuesday’s funeral, organizers said just 500 people would be allowed inside the 2,000-seat sanctuary to keep mourners safely apart during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
But as the pews began to fill before the service, it became clear that such safeguards would not be possible.
“So much for social distancing today,” a concerned Fountain of Praise pastor Remus E. Wright said on stage.
Wright admonished mounters to keep their masks on and said anyone not with a facial covering would be taken out. Congregants applauded.
“People are not expendable,” he said as a final warning.
Former Vice President and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, Mayor Sylvester Turner, and U.S. Reps. Al Green, D-Texas, and Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, are scheduled to deliver remarks at the service.
Biden on Monday met privately with Floyd’s family.
Tuesday’s final farewell caps nearly a week of memorials that began Thursday in Minneapolis when mourners inside a sanctuary at North Central University said Floyd — their brother, father, uncle and friend — will get justice.
Friends and family also gathered for a viewing and service near his birthplace in Raeford, North Carolina, on Saturday, where they demanded that Floyd’s death spur substantive changes in police practices.
Then on Monday, more than 6,000 people braved 90-degree-plus heat to file into Fountain of Praise to honor Floyd.
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